The farrier just left so I released the hounds (the ‘hounds’ being my dogs: Nomar, Dex and Shiva).
Immediately, they flung themselves out of the door and rocketed towards the barn to hoover-up all the hoof trimmings.
They’ve always done this and they probably always will; but should they?
If your horses live with you and you have dogs, you probably are very familiar with the love relationship between canines and equine hoof trimmings…
Trimmings are kinda like canine crack. Dogs spend hours looking for them and once found, ingest them as fast as possible and then continue the search, never looking up and never giving up until the intervention (at our house, the intervention is dinner).
I think, for my dogs at least, the hunt for these hidden treasures is almost as fun as the chewing of them. And my dogs have to hunt for the trimmings since I don’t let the dogs and the farrier mix.
To me, the dogs are a distraction for the poor farrier. They stand at attention just a nose away from the farriers flying hands, waiting for him to drop a morsel. And, once they are fixated on their next fix, they tend to forget that a 1100lb animal is looming right near their heads and that the farrier tools are sharp. Not good.
Also, Nomar (my scaredymastiff) lurks 100 yards away and barks at the farrier, his truck and everything associated with this invasion of our territory. To Nomar, even though the farrier comes every few weeks, this time it could be life threatening. Oy. Poor Nomar. He is so tortured within…
Hence, I leave the dogs inside… which makes the ‘after farrier Trim Hunt’ a huge party!
THE HOOF TRIM HUNT!
First, as I said, the dogs bullet to the barn.
Once at the barn, they do their best bloodhound impersonation as they try to be the first one to find exactly where each hoof trim fell. Usually, the low dog will fly to the adjoining pastures to see if anyone was trimmed in the other fields. Smart.
Anyway, the rest of the afternoon is filled with snorfelling, chewing, flipping, catching, sneezing, burying and fighting over their beloved trimmings. Sometimes, I hear that awful retching sound when one has gorged himself on just a bit too much of a good thing…
So, is this hoof trim banquet bad for them?
Today, I decided to find out.
Oy. If I had another day or so, maybe I could find an official test done to see if dogs shouldn’t eat hoof trimmings. But from what I could tell, no one has performed any scientific research. Mostly, I found forums that threw around owner speculation.
From the veterinarians’ viewpoints, horse hoof trimmings can be dangerous for three reasons:
1) Trimmings could hold bacteria that is bad for the gut
2) Trimmings could be sharp which could perforate the gut wall – very bad.
3) Be wary if you’ve used any kind of thrush product on the hooves. Poisonous to dogs.
It appeared to me that illness from hoof trimmings are rare. However, there were cases sited. Here is one:
by Dave Walker » Fri Jan 07, 2005 3:00 pm
Yesterday our dog was sitting on the couch when she jumped up, fell over, and went completely rigid. She was hard as a board, legs sticking straight out. After about 5 minutes she relaxed a little and started panting like crazy. We took her to the vet and on the way there the rigidity happened a few more times. At the vet they gave her muscle relaxants and said that the symptoms were like a mycotoxin poisoning. Likely due to something moldy. So they pumped her stomach and out came a piece of hoof trimming. The vet thought this was the likely cause.
Now the dogs have always liked eating hoof trimming when the farrier is there. It is almost impossible to keep them away. Never hurt them before. This piece was probably just moldy. Afterwards a friend of ours told us that the exact same thing (symptoms, etc) had happened to her dog and that a piece of hoof came out when they pumped its stomach.
Our dog is going to be fine but this also could have killed her. So be careful about leaving hoof trimming around. If they have the wrong mold or whatever they could be toxic.
In any event, the general opinion is that:
–too many trimming ingested at once could make your dog sick so dole them out sparingly
–hooves are dirty and they could carry bacteria (worse than stuff your dog already eats) so either wash them off or check them over
–make sure they aren’t too sharp
–fresh hoof trimming are somewhat soft and more digestible than older hoof trimmings
ARE THEY GOOD FOR YOUR DOG – nutritionwise?
Here, the speculation was all over the map once again… I read that hoof trimming have calcium and biotin that are good for dogs. But, I also read that hoof trimmings are difficult to digest and do nothing nutritionally for the dogs.
Again, I couldn’t find any scientific research to tell me anything for sure.
One thing is for sure; hoof trimmings are fun for the dogs’ mental state.
OTHER DOG TREATS IN COMPARISON
While researching ‘dog treats’, I found articles that said everything from Greenies to cow hooves were bad for dogs. I don’t know. Maybe they are.
I found dozens of articles saying that rawhide was bad for dogs. I also read where Nylabones created issues for dogs but I thought that the dogs in question probably had an allergy to the synthetic nature of the Nylabone.
Anyway, there is a firestorm out there relating to safety and marketed dog treats. But, not much about horse hoof trimmings.
I guess it could be famous last words if I say that my dogs have been eating horse hoof trimmings for as long as I’ve had horses and dogs. No one has ever had any issues except us humans because wet, slobbery horse trimmings stink to high heaven. Ugh. You want to always be sure that the trimmings are eaten outside and away from your nose.
But, my dogs do love them… and I hate to take that away from them if it isn’t proven that trimmings are bad.
So, for me, I’ve decided to round up the trimmings before I let the dogs out. In this way, I can make sure the trims aren’t filled with some nasty bacteria and I can see if any of them are particularly sharp.
Of course, I’ll leave a few out for the ‘hunt’, but the rest I will bag and give out judiciously.
Besides, it might be fun to hide the gathered trimmings every now and then… kinda like an Easter Egg Hunt for dogs on a monthly basis!
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